People Make Hundreds of Decisions Every Day

October 20, 2007
People make hundreds of decisions every day. We have to make the decision whether or not to get out of bed in the morning, what to have for breakfast, what radio station to listen to, or even what type of toothpaste to buy. Granted, some decisions are more important than others, and some decisions we make won’t really affect us in the future. But at some point in a person’s life, they will have to make a decision that could change their life for ever. They may not know it at the time, and it may take a few years for them to realize how important it was that they made that decision. But at some point, maybe even more than once, it will happen to everyone. For me, that decision came in the spring of 2005.

I go to a Baptist church, the white one that’s “not quite” on the green. Every year around February, someone gets up during the service and announces that it’s time to sign up for Camp Wightman, a Baptist summer camp in Griswold, CT. And every year before 2005, I didn’t think anything of it. As a kid, I was always clingy with my mom. I actually cried when I found out that she wouldn’t be walking down to the bus stop with me when I started 5th grade, and I refused to go on the Nature’s Classroom field trip unless she went with me. So the idea of a going to a summer camp that was an hour and a half away for a whole week by myself was pretty much out of the question.

My brother had gone to the camp before, and when he got the sign up sheet in the mail, my dad asked me if I wanted to go, too. He had asked me the same thing for the past few of years, and I had always said no, but this year he seemed to be pushing it more. The first time he asked me, I said I’d think about it, but I don’t think that was good enough for my dad. He seemed to be asking me more and more, at least once a week by the end of March. Finally, I decided to go for it. I decided to go out on a limb, and try something I had never done before. If my brother had such a good time when he went, maybe it was worth it. Maybe I should give it a shot. So I signed up for the “field games” camp, a “week filled with field games and fun!” What’s the worst that could happen? I thought. So I sent the sign up sheet in.

In early June, my parents got an email from the camp. “We’re sorry, but not enough people signed up for the field games camp to have the program! We still have two camps with spaces open: Aquatics Camp and Junior High II. You can either come to one of these programs, or we can give you your money back.” I was sure this was a sign that I really wasn’t supposed to be going to camp, but my dad wouldn’t hear it. Before I knew it, I was in the car with a suitcase on the hour and a half drive to Jr. High II.
It was amazing. By the first night, I’d already made a friend, and people were shocked at the end of the week when they learned that we had just met because of how close we had become. There were huge games of capture the flag, we were playing tag in the pitch black, and even sticking our faces in the mud to create mud sculptures. There were chugging contests with the left over juice and water pitchers, and cannon ball contests in the lake. You name it, we probably did it. It was more fun than I had had in a long time. On Friday night, I was proud to say that I not looking forward to leaving.

The next year, I went back for another week, and once again, it was great. But the weeks that I’ll never forget, the ones that really changed me as a person, were this summer. At the beginning of June, I went off to camp for “Counselor In Training” week. This week was the week that was known for being the worst and yet the best week of your life at the same time. That week, we weren’t allowed to go to bed until after 1:00 AM, we had to get up for hikes at 5:00 AM, if you could fit in two showers for the entire week you were lucky, and if your voice wasn’t gone from singing camp songs by Wednesday, there was something wrong. Yet during that week and the two weeks of being a CIT that followed, I learned that camp was where I was supposed to be. Because at camp, no one cared. No one cared that on Saturday morning, I hadn’t taken a shower since Wednesday, and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d put on makeup. No one cared that my hair was a curly mess. No one cared that my face was covered in pimples, or that I had to wear my glasses because I lost my contacts. No one cared that I’d never had a boyfriend before, or that I was a nerd in school, or that I wore a shirt over my bathing suit every time we went swimming because I didn’t like my stomach. No one cared. The let me be myself, and better yet, they liked it. They let me be the loud crazy person that I am at home when it’s just me and my family, and they let me be the funny person that loves to make everyone laugh. When it was time to play team games, people were asking me to be on their team, even though they knew how bad I was at the game. The other JCs and counselors didn’t treat me like the youngest one there, and they always made me feel like I belonged. People liked me for me.

By the end of the summer, I felt closer to these complete strangers who I had met only three weeks before than I felt with most of my friends back home. I was telling camp stories to everyone I saw, and every time I would come up with a new story to tell my friends, which was pretty often, they would tell me how obsessed I was and how I needed to go back to camp. There was one thing that my mom said to me when I came home from camp that really hit me, and once again just showed me how much I love camp. She said that she liked the “camp me” much better, the one who didn’t care what other people thought, and she hoped that the camp me would stay, at least for a little while.

I like the camp me too, but the sad part is, I don’t know if she can stay. The thing about camp is that since no one judges you on how you look or what you think, you can be yourself, wear what you want, and say what you feel. But at home, it’s not like that. I have a pair of bright yellow rain boots that I thought were really funny, so I bought them. If I were to wear them at camp, people would think they were funny, and would think it was cool that I was wearing something like that. But if I wore those to school, I couldn’t really expect to have many friends the next day. People “in the real world” as us camp people like to call it, are too concerned with what other people think to be themselves. If people were to step back for a minute, put down their designer purses, take off their makeup, put on a pair of crappy sweats and a random t-shirt, and just talk to each other, life would be so much easier. But that’s not going to happen, and that’s ok, because at least I have those few weeks during the summer where I can go off to camp and do all of that and realize that there are still nice people left in the world, and some people will still take you for who you really are.

If I hadn’t made the decision to go to Camp Wightman, I honestly don’t who I’d be right now. I’d probably still be that girl judging people on what they were wearing, that girl who had to have the Abercrombie and Hollister shirts every day. But I’m not her, and that’s all that matters. Most people wouldn’t think that making the decision to go to a summer camp for one week during the summer would be a decision that could change a life. But then again, most people haven’t been to Camp Wightman.

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